Monday, February 29, 2016

Cut Me In aka The Proposition (Hunt Collins aka Ed McBain, 1954)

Routine stuff, don't really have much to write about it. I'm not even sure whether it qualifies as a 'proper' mystery novel. I mean, it does have all the required ingredients like corpses, beautiful women, cops, show biz background etc... but our hero is more or less completely oblivious to all this. Josh Blake has lost an ultra lucrative contract that would launch him and his publishing company into the big time and now his sole interest is in getting the damn paper back.

It does start a bit more promising. In the opening scene we find our hero hungover and just awaking next to some beautiful girl. One night stand it was and he cannot even remember her name. A bit predictable but still cool as this cannot mean nothing else but that sooner or later he will need her to confirm his alibi for the last night. Next scene is a nice nod to the Maltese Falcon - Blake's partner was killed and now his freshly widowed wife tries to seduce Blake. But he doesn't care much neither about Gilbert's demise nor his horny wife. So everything is set for an "innocent man without an alibi on the run" type of story... which unfortunately never materializes.

Instead it turns into a very simplistic and rather dull affair that loses its suspense with every chapter you read. I would say that the most ridiculous one is the 9th in which Blake gets abducted by two thugs. But don't expect some hard-boiled beatings and/or interrogations and/or spectacular shootout escape because our trio soon ends up drinking and playing cards!

With lots of dialogue, simple language, flat story-line and some sexy bits thrown in for good measure it at least isn't boring. Quick read but unfortunately not particularly enjoying one. McBain or no McBain...

2.5/5
(like for So Nude, So Dead I'm adding an extra half point for the included excellent short story Now Die In It)

Facts:

Hero
Josh Blake, a surviving half of the Gilbert & Blake literary agency

Location:
New York

Body count: 3

Dames: 
A bunch of them: Lydia the secretary ("a shrewd, talented bitch"), Mr. Becker's secretary (with just a single appearance and without any role whatsoever but still "one of the most thriving creatures I had ever seen") and of course "cleanly built, with full, flowing curves" Cal Stewart

Shrewd, thriving, cleanly built???

Object of desire:  
Don't misunderstand me. I wasn't playing cop. I'd never played cop in my life, and I certainly wasn't starting now. I was, I suppose, primarily interested in the deal, and what the murders could do to kill the deal. 

Blackouts
My cheek exploded in a yellow burst of pain, and then little yellow bubbles drifted across the top of my skull, turned to purple, brown, black. They all flooded together, like black pebbles being sucked down a drain, and the blackness swirled faster and faster until my consciousness went down the drain with the pebbles.

Hardly surprisingly he loses consciousness again after drinking shitload of vodka and gin. But what is weird and doesn't exactly make sense is that less than two hours later he manages not only to wake up but also to drive to Miss Stewart's house where they have sex. Strange brand of Vodka indeed...
 
Title: 
Not sure how to interpret either the original or the new one. I guess in both cases it got something to do with that copyright contract. Were those westerns TV rights proposed to Blake? Was he cut in on the deal? Does it even matter?

Edition:  
Hard Case Crime #122

Cover
By McGinnis, one of his trade mark long-legged beauties. Not sure why this one has sore knees.

Cool lines:/